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Friday, July 01, 2005

Offlee Suburban

- There are probably more entries for the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont than there would have been if Ghostzapper and/or Eddington were still around, but it's a Grade 1 event that doesn’t really seem like one. Only Funny Cide and Evening Attire are Grade 1 winners, but they both need to re-establish their prior form at this point. In fact, Funny Cide’s assistant trainer Robin Smullen told the Form, “If he doesn't run well in this race we probably will not pursue Grade 1's unless they come up very, very easy. But he's doing very well and hopefully he'll run well.” He shows two zippy works for this – 5f in :58 2/5 on 6/23 and 3f in :35 3/5 just yesterday. Whatsmore, assuming that Belmont avoids any of the storms that are supposed to miss that part of the area this evening, the track condition and temperature should be more to his liking than in his first two tries this year. He loves the track and distance, and also gets Jerry Bailey, replacing Jose Santos who was criticized by Barclay Tagg for his ride in the Brooklyn, in which he found himself steadied in tight quarters. I think he’ll run better and he could win, but if he’s as overbet as he was in his last two starts – he was ridiculously so both times, and always gets bet in NY – I’ll look elsewhere for the winner.

Record Buster goes for Ghostzapper’s connections, and this 4 yo is 3 for 3 lifetime, with all his starts coming since April 9 – so that’s a big change from the champ already. He ran a lifetime best 102 Beyer in an allowance race in his last, defeating Don’t Knock America, a NY-bred with a 4 for 25 record who runs in the race before the Suburban, so if you see him perform like Commentator, go to the windows. Otherwise, Record Buster likely needs more seasoning to beat this field.

Pollard’s Vision comes off a G3 win at Hawthorne in a lifetime best 109 Beyer and a second in the sloppy Pimlico Special to Eddington. The track was listed as ‘good’ at Hawthorne, and this son of Carson City loves the slop – he’s 3 for 5, and has a Tomlinson number of 421. He has just 3 wins in 16 starts on fast tracks, and hasn’t come close, on dry tracks, to the 107 Beyer he earned in winning the Illinois Derby last year. Unless the track comes up wet, I’m likely to look elsewhere.

Sir Shackleton has not raced around two turns nor over a mile in five starts this year; and his two 2005 wins were in his first two starts of the year. He’s come across a couple of impossible tasks in his last two, trailing Battle Won in his 1:20 2/5 7 furlong win in the G2 Churchill Downs Handicap, and running third, 11 lengths behind Ghostzapper in the Met Mile; but he just seems a cut below.

Offlee Wild came up empty as the favorite in the Pimlico Special, running 6th and beaten by 23 lengths in the slop. Prior to that, the 5 yo had really blossomed, following up his final 2004 race, his thrilling win in the Mass Cap, with two stellar efforts this year. After 8 months off, he battled Coast Line down the stretch in the John Campbell BC at Laurel, settling for second by a neck; and romped at the Big A in the Excelsior; earning Beyers of 110 and 109 respecitvely. He’ll need to prove that his last was too bad to be true, and that he can win at this distance, but he’s worked extremely well since then, gets leading rider Edgar Prado and is likely to bounce back.

Offlee Wild
Funny Cide
Record Buster

I'll try to get to the United Nations Handcap a bit later; looks like an interesting betting race.

- Well, more depressing news, as impressive Peter Pan winner Oratory, who would have been favored in Monday’s Dwyer, will undergo surgery after suffering a condylar fracture in his right front leg Friday following a workout. [Bloodhorse] “"He pulled up and was lame," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "The surgery could be as soon as tomorrow. We won’t know [whether Oratory will be able to race again] until after the surgery, just to see the extent of the injury." [Thoroughbred Times] Damn!

In addition, Godolphin’s Sharmadal, who swept the Gainsborough Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Fr-G1) (French Two Thousand Guineas), Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-G1) (French Derby), and St. James’s Palace (Eng-G1) in his final three starts, has been retired due to injury. [TT]

Godolphin will hope for better luck at Belmont tomorrow when last year’s Mother Goose and Gazelle winner Stellar Jayne returns in the Misty Gallore stakes, the 5th race on the card.